It was baseball that led him here, and his love for Pepperdine athletics that caused him to set down roots. For David Rhoades, the opportunity to come back to his alma mater to coach and now serve as the associate director of athletics was a dream come true.
Born in Colorado, Rhoades moved to Hayden, Ariz., when he was one year old. Rhoades made the most of his time in Hayden, a small mining community 65 miles north of Tuscon. He played shortstop for the Hayden Lobos and led his high school to the 1978 and 1979 Class B State Championships. Rhoades’ efforts as a senior earned him a place on the All-State First Team by the Arizona Republic newspaper.
After playing for two years at Yavapai College, a community college in Prescott, Ariz., Rhoades committed to play for Pepperdine on a baseball scholarship for coach Dave Gorrie. He helped the Waves to 79 wins in his two seasons, including a national ranking of No. 11 during his last year.
Rhoades received his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Seaver College in 1985 and returned to be an assistant baseball coach at Pepperdine for five seasons (1995-99). He was promoted to director of athletic academic services shortly thereafter and ultimately into his current role in the athletic department in 2003.
The Malibu Times met up with Rhoades as he began his 10th year as associate director of athletics for the Waves.
As an alum of the school, talk about Pepperdine and what it means to you.
I fell in love with Pepperdine as a student. To come back and work as an assistant baseball coach was a dream come true. I can’t believe it’s been 19 years. I mean, why leave? Aside from the beauty of the location and the great people I work with, I am passionate about college athletics and being committed to Christian higher-education learning. Those things keep me going.
What are your job responsibilities as associate director of athletics?
My main responsibilities are overseeing the athletic facilities, game management for all home events for every sport and athletic event contracts. Making sure all the facilities are set up, taken down and run smoothly. Another part of the big picture is managing the facility scheduling on a master calendar so that we are not double-booking events for men’s and women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, and other campus activities in Firestone Fieldhouse. I also oversee the Sports Medicine Department and our athlete drug testing programs.
Talk about the future of Pepperdine athletics in respect to the West Coast Conference and the Campus Life Project (an expansion program that would add athletic seating, among other features).
The climate of college athletics is changing all the time. Last year the WCC added Brigham Young University and next year we will be adding the University of the Pacific. This will give us a 10-team conference, which will help with scheduling and having travel partners. It’s a great size for our conference, and BYU and Pacific both fit the make-up of the WCC in regard to their academic mission and athletic endeavors.
The big thing for us right now is the Campus Life Project and specifically the future construction of the Athletic Events Center. It will be a 5,000-seat facility that will host basketball and volleyball, strength and conditioning, student-athlete academic services, coaches and staff offices, and practice courts. It will be the biggest facility on campus. When you talk about the future of Pepperdine athletics, it’s exciting. Firestone Fieldhouse will then become a student-recreation center, which we have never had on campus. We are in the planning process with the Coastal Commission, getting permits and doing fundraising.
As assistant tournament manager for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament West Regional at Staples Center, talk about your role and Pepperdine as the host institution.
How exciting is that? This is the first time ever that we have done something like this. We’ve hosted many NCAA events on campus in the past but not to this magnitude off-campus. Pepperdine is the host institution. We are the liaison between the NCAA and Staples Center. It’s exciting to get involved with men’s basketball at the regional level. I am helping implement what the NCAA operations manual says how to run the tournament properly. The winner will go to the Final Four and hopefully play for a national championship. We want to make sure it’s a great experience for the teams, the fans, the NCAA and the schools participating. It’s a great honor for Pepperdine.